The new season of the Mindy project premieres today on Hulu and Mindy Kaling has a lot to say about what to expect now that Mindy is expecting. She talked to TVGuide about the new season. Mild spoilers ahead:
Mindy is such an interesting and complicated character. How will aspects of Mindy’s personality transform when she becomes a mother?
Mindy Kaling: I think her personality stays pretty much the same. Maybe because I’m a cynical writer, I tend to think that people don’t change really in life and that they can stretch a little bit. I think a fun challenge as an actress is now that Mindy has a baby, she stretches a little bit because she loves something more than her. So, I think that is the main way that she’s different. Honestly, she’s her more than ever.
A lot of sitcoms find creative ways to work around giving babies too much screen time or focus. How much of Mindy and Danny’s baby will we actually see on the show?
Kaling: We will definitely see real glimpses of the baby. I think that people seem to be excited about the notion of them as parents, but I don’t think they necessarily need to see them with a baby for most of the episode. Like Everybody Loves Raymond, where the kids weren’t always there, just the specter of the children were there without having to have them in every scene.
Mindy and Danny are so different. What will it look like with them working together to raise this child?
Kaling: That’s the fun of this season. In one of the episodes, Mindy yells at her nanny for posting a picture of her kid online. But her reasoning is that, if you want to post a picture of my kid online you have to go through his agent. So, she fully wants to be a Kris Jenner momager, but of course has no connections and would be terrible at that.
We get to see Mindy’s parents (Ajay Mehta, Sakina Jaffrey) in the premiere. Will we get to see them again this season?
Kaling: Definitely. We’ve already written them into a couple more episodes. We had so much fun with Rhea [Perlman] last year as Danny’s mom and it just added so much depth to Danny’s character. She was such a funny character and an adversary to Mindy. So having Mindy’s parents, who are such unique characters, would be great on the show to build out the world.
Obviously fans are hoping to see a Mindy-Danny wedding this season. If that happens, what kind of bride should we expect Mindy to be?
Kaling: I think that she quotes in one of the episodes that she wants to be one of the brides that ruins the wedding for everyone else at the wedding. She is excited about being a nightmare bride.
You’ve said the show isn’t going to become any more risqué or explicit than it was on Fox now that it’s on Hulu. Is that more because you don’t want to change the tone too much or because you enjoy the challenge that comes from working within certain restraints?
Kaling: I think for my staff in particular, because we all come from network TV, we are better working with a little restraint. My entire staff is from 30 Rock, The Officeand The Simpsons, so none of us have that cable, R-rated background. So I think for us, it’s better than trying to completely change the tone of the show. It would feel strange if the characters were using different language. But we push the envelope a little bit more for sure than we were able to at Fox.
Jeremy (Ed Weeks) has played so many different roles within the show. He started off as the Hugh Grant sleazy love interest, then he was the frazzled boss and had the weight issue. What will his character get up to this season and will we get to see more of him?
Kaling: The thing with Ed is that I think he is a big comedy actor in a leading man’s body. I think he’s really funny when he’s put-upon or frazzled or nervous. I think this year we’re doing a lot. Cristin Milioti comes back, who was his girlfriend at the end of last season. We love her and she’s hilarious and super talented.
Everyone’s really looking forward to seeing this big Danny-Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) road trip episode. What should we expect from that?
Kaling: We started shooting that today, and they have such a funny, nice chemistry. When people talk about chemistry in general, they’re usually talking about romantic chemistry, but they have such a great chemistry together as characters and actors. Their energies are so completely different. I think they’re looking forward to that as well. I’m a little jealous. I’m in one scene in that episode and the rest of it is just the two of them. And we talk about homages to a lot of romantic comedies, but we also love movies like Planes, Trains and Automobiles. This is completely different from that, but I do like the idea of the claustrophobia of two really funny comedy actors driving cross-country together.
Now that Mindy isn’t dating anymore, will the show still feature a lot of those rom-com homages?
Kaling: I think that we definitely have much more romantic comedy to look forward to. The format is not going to be very different now that they have a baby, and the way that we do it I’m really excited about. That’s not going to change.
The premiere’s Sliding Doors homage does something storytelling-wise that the show has ever done before. With the expanded season, are you looking to experiment with narrative techniques more?
Kaling: I definitely think that for the premiere episode, we really wanted to do something to make it an event and we came up with a great idea. There were some supernatural elements to this episode, and I don’t think we would ever do that in the middle of the season or if we didn’t have 27 minutes to do it in our premiere. It just wouldn’t make any sense in a shorter episode.
Most streaming programs do shorter, 13-episode seasons and even some network shows are moving towards that model. But this will be the most episodes you’ve ever done in a season. How are you dealing with that challenge? Do you see the expanded season as a good thing?
Kaling: If it was 26 all at once, I would feel really differently. We’re doing 13 and 13, almost the way The Walking Dead does a bunch and then takes a break and does another bunch. We haven’t broken the second 13, but I certainly have some ideas and we can do a midseason cliff-hanger, like on a network show where we have this great luxury of knowing we’re going to be shooting 13, rather than hoping and waiting that we get it back. So, we can be a lot more deliberate in our storytelling.
How do you feel about Hulu’s decision to roll out episodes week-to-week as opposed to allowing audiences to binge the season all at once?
Kaling: I love that. As a viewer, I like binge-ing on shows. But I much prefer, as a producer, to have them roll out every week. I feel that ours, where we have really awesome A-list guest stars and we do episodes that are tied to seasonal things, I like to make people wait and then people have us as a presence in their house year-round. Also, we have actors who can go promote special episodes and stuff like that. I’m very happy that we’re still going to air weekly.
The show has evolved so much since the pilot. Do you feel it’s really found its groove now, or do you hope it will continue to evolve and grow with its characters?
Kaling: I’ve always loved it. So for me, I always thought it was great from the pilot on. But of course, I’m biased. I think if you look at a lot of shows, like Parks and Recor 30 Rock, things look very different from the first show to the last, from the cast to the storylines. I love both of those shows, and I feel like we’re on a similar trajectory.
A lot has been made of Mindy’s lack of close female friends on the show. Will that be addressed this season? Are we going to see her get closer with any women in the office and have more storylines with them?
Kaling: I think she does have female friends on the show. I think her camaraderie with Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) and with the Fortune Feimster character and Cristin Milioti is coming up. I honestly never understood that because I looked at 30 Rock, which I love, and [Liz] didn’t really have any [female friends]. But they never really said anything about it, which I thought made sense because her friends were the people she worked with. There was Scott Adsit and Alec Baldwin. So I wasn’t sure about that criticism. I don’t think it’s all that valid.
Are we going to get to see any of the guest stars who played Mindy’s various exes or lovers come back at all this season?
Kaling: I think you will see a couple. Whenever we have somebody like [Anders Holm], B.J. [Novak] or Glenn Howerton, who are brought into the world and everyone has a strong position on them, it’s great to have them resurface now and again when they need an attorney or whatever. We definitely will see some old faces, which is fun for fans.